One of this country's foremost historians of Latin America discusses why the strong U.S. interest in Latin America's wars of independence in the early nineteenth century gave way so quickly to U.S. indifference toward the region, thus establishing a cyclical pattern of strong U.S. concern with Latin America followed by profound neglect whether benign or malign. Emphasizing the U.S. concern with national security as the primary objective of western hemisphere policy, Johnson shows that U.S. policies from 1815 to 1830 were shaped by the security framework, by concern that France or Britain might threaten the United States through western hemisphere involvements, and by deeply negative perceptions of the peoples of Latin America. "The predominant perceptions were that Iberians, Indians, blacks, and the mixed races that made up the populations of Latin American nations were inferior, that the nations themselves, given their state of development, would be neither dependable allies nor, for the present, valuable trading partners, and that the future of the United States rested on pushing the western frontier all the way to the shores of the Pacific, thereby assuring space for the nation to fulfill its destiny."
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